Students enlisted to solve childcare crisis

Pay and play: Student Chloe Wells, 21, with her charges Monty, 4, and Minnie, 7

A GROUP of parents are hoping to raise a ‘student army’ to tackle Britain’s mounting childcare crisis.

They have set up a website that connects mums and dads with young people in higher education who can spare time during the working week.

‘There are more than 2million students at higher education institutions and if just one per cent signed up it could help more than 20,000 families with their childcare,’ said co-founder James Pinniger.

The idea for came when an art student helping Mr Pinniger and his wife with their two children moved on, prompting them to start a search for a replacement.

More than 1,000 parents and students have signed up so far as families across the country struggle with a shortage of childcare places.

The site recommends that parents ask students if they have had a Disclosure and Barring Service check to show they are safe to work with children. It can also arrange for enhanced checks. Mr Pinniger said: ‘Our students can work flexibly to help parents with after school care, babysitting and school holiday cover. By networking with professional parents students can gain career contacts.’

Geography student Chloe Wells, 21, who looks after Mr Pinniger’s children Minnie, seven, and Monty, four, said it was ‘the perfect way of earning a bit more’. She said: ‘I never leave without a big smile after spending time with the children.’

Step on the gas... £33k a day meter

ENERGY supplier SSE has apologised to customers after a smart meter error charged up to £33,000 for one day’s power.

The big six provider has started an inquiry into a ‘small number’ of faulty devices after complaints appeared on Friday.

One customer, charged £33,183 for one day’s gas — more than 2million per cent over budget — said: ‘I like it warm but...’

Standard Life confirms £11bn merger talks

Boss: Sir Gerry Grimstone

STANDARD Life and Aberdeen Asset Management are in talks over an £11billion merger.

The move by the two investment companies would create one of the largest fund managers in the world, responsible for £660billion of assets. Standard Life chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone would take over the group role with Aberdeen’s Simon Troughton as his deputy.

A merger would ‘draw on expertise across markets’ to ‘optimise benefits for clients and shareholders’, the companies said.

The pound that costs a mint

COLLECTORS’ editions of the new £1 coin go on sale today for up to £1,995. Gold, silver, platinum and non-precious metal versions are available from the Royal Mint. It fully enters circulation on March 28.

Homes help from bank of gran and grandad

THE ‘bank of gran and grandad’ is being relied on to help young people on the property ladder.

Eight per cent of prospective first-time buyers plan to use cash from their grandparents for their deposit, a survey reveals.

And 32 per cent of would-be homeowners will get help from someone in their family as prices soar, shows the Santander poll.

That compares with only 13 per cent of existing owners who needed cash from relations.

Santander’s Miguel Sard said: ‘First-time buyers are showing resilience and determination to achieve their goals.’

Bake Off snub

NETFLIX’S content chief says he was ‘surprised’ not to be offered The Great British Bake Off when it left the BBC.

Ted Sarandos hinted Love Productions could have got a better price by inviting the web giant to make a bid before signing a £75million deal with Channel 4.

Netflix hopes to launch its own cookery show.